October 25, 2013

REVIEW: Shift (Shade #2)

Shift (Shade #2), by Jeri Smith-Ready
Published May 3, 2011
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Format: audiobook, I purchased
Genre: YA paranormal romance
To Buy:  Amazon * Barnes & Noble

Rating:  5 STARS

(From Goodreads) Aura’s life is anything but easy. Her boyfriend, Logan, died, and his slides between ghost and shade have left her reeling. Aura knows he needs her now more than ever. She loves Logan, but she can’t deny her connection with the totally supportive, totally gorgeous Zachary. And she’s not sure that she wants to.

Logan and Zachary will fight to be the one by her side, but Aura needs them both to uncover the mystery of her past—the mystery of the Shift. 

As Aura’s search uncovers new truths, she must decide whom to trust with her secrets…and her heart.

You know how some middle series books slow down as they set the stage for the final one? Yeeeeah... That's so not the case with Shift. I mean, yes - it IS the middle book. And, yes, it did certainly set the stage for the final book. But, the slowing down part? Not. Even. Close.

Aura is sad and lonely after Logan turned into a Shade. Until she calls to him on the Spring Equinox and she is able to turn him back to a ghost. Then, a solid person again. Temporarily, anyway. While she doesn't know what this means, she soon realizes the repercussions it could have on her budding relationship with Zachary. While they try and work it all out, the DMP is now going to drastic measures to keep both Aura, Zach and Logan under their thumbs.

I felt so much for Aura in Shift. I can imagine that it's tough to get over the death of a loved one when you can see and talk to their ghost pretty much whenever you want to. The lines get blurred even more when you can feel them and hug them and kiss them for 17 minutes each quarter. How do you ever move on from something like that? And, yet, Aura tries - not without a small measure of confusion, though. And, how could you blame her?

Zachary is one of the best male characters I've ever read about in YA fiction. He's kind of a geek. He's awkward and shy at times. Yet, when he needs it, he draws this manly bravery out from his depths and uses it to help those he loves. And, make no mistake - this boy loves Aura. How many times have book boyfriends recited these eloquent swoony speeches to the girls they love, and you sit there and think, "Huh. That sounds like an author wrote that."? Not so here. Zach doesn't always have the right words. He totally makes crap decisions (over and over and OVER again in Shift). And, he is one of the most perfect male YA characters ever. BECAUSE of those things. 

Believe it or not, the most growth seen in this book comes from Logan. He moves from party boy who thinks about himself to a quasi-adult who starts thinking about everyone else around him and how his presence affects them. I loved seeing his character grow and change. I'm glad Jeri Smith-Ready didn't make it easy for him, either. He still loves Aura and doesn't want her with anyone else. Yet, Logan also recognizes that his hanging on causes her to stall too. And, how could he love her if he didn't let her go? But, he positively agonizes over it, and it takes him a long time to reach a mature place.

One of the best things about this series is that the paranormal elements are steeped in reality. There's a lot of Irish and Celtic mythology in play here with real places and legends not only referenced, but taking a major role in the post-Shift world that Jeri Smith-Ready has created. The author has done her homework and then some. The reality is intertwined so seamlessly with the make-believe that the make-believe seems totally real. Jeri has done her job well.

The action is plentiful. The frustration for the reader is completely ridiculous. And, by ridiculous, I mean AWESOME. Both Aura and Zach do colossally stupid things in Shift that made me yell and rage. And, somehow, they manage to find common ground and get over all the mistakes and regrets. And, in the end, I  found myself bawling over the steering wheel in my car. The ending was amazing and set things up so well for the final book.

A word about the audio version of Shift - Kristine Hvam is now on my list of Favorite Audiobook Narrators. She did an incredible job with the dialects and the male/female inflections. I loved it.

Even if ghost stories aren't really your thing (they aren't really my thing), know that the Shade series isn't just a "ghost series." It's about love and loss and defining what freedom really is in all manners of the term.

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